SES politics

Back in February 2014 The Courier ran an editorial about a Hills-based unit of State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers being taken “off-line” by management for breaking protocol.
It was a short-term disciplinary action designed to slap the Onkaparinga SES on the wrist for asking the Woodside CFS to check on the status of a Woodside house believed to be under threat from flooding.
The SES unit was already busy dealing with flooding in Lobethal but protocol dictated that if they couldn’t attend the “P2 (priority two)” job, then another SES unit should have been called – not the CFS.
If they were busy, the householder in Woodside would just have to wait because the system allows the SES to “job stack” up to 27 P2 calls.
It should be noted here that there are 66 SES units across SA and 425 CFS stations.
Unfortunately the same system is also applied to trees that have fallen across roads not designated as major traffic routes.
The Onkaparinga SES says the threat to life on “minor” roads is very real and it wants the system fixed because volunteers from both services have the training to remove fallen trees and deal with flooding.
More than two years later the issue hasn’t been resolved and has surfaced again.
A short-term disciplinary action has now escalated into a stand-off between the unit and management and what is essentially a two-year long strike by volunteers.
Now it’s at the stage where the politicking and the accusations of gagging has led to the volunteers asking the SES chief officer to disband the unit in order to trigger a public meeting so they can explain the situation to the community.
Members say they can’t speak out and they’ve left it to their former manager to speak up and to State Liberal MP Duncan McFetridge to raise the issue in Parliament.
It is through Dr McFetridge that we learn that the central Hills isn’t the only area affected by this system because similar issues have surfaced in the Meadows and Strathalbyn region.
Something needs to be done to break this impasse – and sacking a group of volunteers over a demarcation dispute isn’t the answer.
The general public don’t care what color overalls their emergency services wear – and neither should the people pulling the strings at the top.

1 Comment on "SES politics"

  1. I am part of the emergency services and know full well that SES can call on CFS to assist when times get busy. CFS do not get training in flood mitigation and would be like sending the SES to a grass fire and ask them to put it out without the correct training or equipment. I have been able to work with CFS and SES on taskings throughout the Hills and know in my patch all services are happy to help each other, with know issues from region or State level. As the Onka SES have decided to take themselves off line I ask the question, are they really concerned with public safety or do they have an alternate motive? The Onka area is the only area/group that have taken this stance where all other areas/groups work through the issues and continue to service their communities.

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